To A Malignant Neoplasm

EDIT: I am so humbled at how many have read this entry in the short time it has been up, whether out of curiosity, a random click or because you knew her. It means a lot to me and, hopefully, to you, too!


Good day, my lords and ladies, please forgive the hiatus. What started as a wonderful (but busy) week ended with, frankly, quite a depressing weekend – the rugby didn’t help, either.

(I have no idea what happened this weekend but, other than the last twenty minutes of the French game on Sunday, this tournament so far has been incredibly disappointing).

Ordinarily I wouldn’t post on a Sunday, but the weekend past, a friend lost the five year battle with her brain tumour, and I had to do something. The treatment had gone well until last summer, and then the benign remainder resurfaced.

I had just finished a meeting with my director for an upcoming Assistant Director’s placement (who also happened to direct one of the Scott & Bailey episodes I analysed for my dissertation, no biggy). I came out of Òran Mór, was given directions to meet a family friend and then received that message.

The directions were in my head for a grand total of ten seconds, and next thing I know I was lost on Great Western Road (for those not playing the home game, it’s a very long straight road – it isn’t called ‘Great’ for nothing).

I bought food in the station – while I wasn’t hungry, I knew my body would be. I got on the train. And there, in the parted rain clouds, was a patch of clear blue sky and a double rainbow. I don’t know what she did, but it was a damn fine effort, and I thank her for it.

When something bad happens, I go into emotional shutdown, purely as a means of functioning until I can find a place of private refuge (to be discussed in an upcoming post). My concern was that I had practiced this skill so well, I wasn’t feeling anything. That’s two girls from my school year we have lost, now (five years this summer). To lose one was already too many.

And she is the third person I have lost to a brain tumour. Surely I would feel something soon.

Then, finally, the tears came. They stopped. And then the anger set in. But, like stress, I don’t do anger often. So when it happens, I have no idea how to cope.

And all I could hear in my head was Wee, sleekit, cow’rin’, timorous beastie over and over again. Each time I heard it, it made me angrier. Because the tumour wasn’t cowering or timorous. It was prowling, and shameless.

This is what I did. The numbers are the verses I reworked; all eight seemed a bit much.

1. Wee, sleekit, prowlin’, shameless beastie,
O, what a panic’s in my breastie!
Thou should start awa sae hasty
Wi’ bickering brattle!
I wadnae be laith to run an’ chase thee,
Wi’ murd’ring pattle!

5. Thou saw thon lass, to your distaste,
An’ gie her just wan final blast,
An’ cozie there, beneath the cast,
Thou thought to dwell –
Till crash! the cruel growth is hast
A’ thro’ her cell.

6. That wee bit heap o’ blonde visible,
Has cost her mony your fearsome nibble!
Now thou’s finished, for a’ thy trouble,
Her body stalled,
To thole your schemin’ invisible,
An’ creepin’ mould.

7. But, Tumour, thou art meek an’ plain,
She outdid ye’, your plan in vain;
The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley,
An’lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,
For promis’d joy!

8. For she art blest, compar’d wi’ ye’
Her sufferin’ endeth with thee:
Nae mair frae thou, for she is free.
Nae mair t’fear!
Her final move, thou couldna’ see,
Deserves a cheer!

At the top I said she lost the battle. In reality, she won, just not in the way the rest of us wanted. A tumour can only survive while the host is living.

But she didn’t half trump you, did she?

1990-2014. Tempted though I was to put up a less than complimentary picture, I’ll keep it tame 🙂

3 thoughts on “To A Malignant Neoplasm


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